Yesterday the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Society of Anesthesiologists published new consensus guidelines on the use of IV ketamine infusions for chronic and acute pain management. The new guidelines were published in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

Ketamine, classified by the FDA as an anesthetic agent, has been clinically available for nearly 50 years and used widely as a surgical anesthetic. Over the past decade, it has increasingly been used to treat patients for a variety of pain disorders and even examined as a potential treatment for depression.

Despite the recent surge in ketamine use, pain medicine experts say there have been no large-scale studies to guide such treatments or establish standards. The new guidelines provide, for the first time, evidence-based recommendations on patient selection for the use of ketamine to treat acute and chronic pain, as well as monitoring, personnel and dosing regimens for ketamine as a treatment for pain, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There have been calls from health insurance companies, government regulatory agencies, patient advocacy groups and hospitals to try to standardize patient selection and treatment protocols,” says Steven P. Cohen, M.D., professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a leading author of the new guidelines.

Dr. Cohen is available for media interviews to discuss the guidelines and their implications.